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WORK LIFE BALANCE FOR PARENTS

Date Started: 3rd March 2023

Date Ended: 4th March 2023

Author Name: Sanghamitra Dixit

Qualifications: BA(Hons) Applied Psychology, MA Applied Psychology ( Spl. in Counselling)

Designation: Consultant Psychologist, ACRO Mental Health & Wellness.

Word count: 654 words

Reading time: 7 mins

Reviewed by: Mariyam Mohammed and Ayesha Begum.


Parenting: How to Strike a Work-Life Balance

Finding balance in the world of children and parenting




Creating a harmony between life and work is essential


A common phrase casually overused is maintaining a ‘work-life balance’ (1). Once upon a time, this was an easy assumption(2). Parents left for work, came back home in the evening and spent the rest of the time with their children or other family members (3). This was a time when work was manual and technology was scarce— work could be left ‘behind’(4). People could focus on two different aspects of their lives, and manage well (5).


Cut to the 21st Century, and this seems like a strange time in history (6). Also, with the advent of technology in our daily lives, separating work from ‘life’ has become incredibly difficult (7). Accessing work through laptops and smartphones means that there isn’t a specific time for work to end. It can happen any place, any time (8).


Work-Life Balance as a Parent

Being a working parent is a juggling act between work and life, one that works for their profession and families (9). Parents are expected to be great at everything— raise their children, produce excellence at work, keep up a healthy environment, and even go on holidays to bond with their family— it’s quite a lot (10). It’s no wonder that so many working parents seem to be hanging by a thread (11). That’s a lot of expectation and stress on people who simply want to do right (12).




Stacking on too many tasks can lead to burn out and spillover

While there may not be one magical solution to reduce this burden, it’s also true any situation can be managed (13). Compromise is a part of life, sometimes a frustrating one (14,15). You’re not alone (16). Finding that balance is important as it benefits all the family, and it can also improve your physical and mental health (17).


What is Work-Life Balance?

Many people assume work means what one is paid for (18). In reality, work also includes household chores, tasks of the week, keeping up with your children’s development (19). The life part of the equation stands for quality time with your family members, connecting with your children and giving yourself permission to enjoy your hard work (20,21). Many new parents often get frazzled when they face parenting and all that comes with it, on top of their careers (22).

The COVID-19 pandemic has further affected this balance (23). Without the physical separation of work from life, and with people working at home— one may forget when to stop (24). Office cultures may also make it tricky, believing that working at home is relaxing and so, more work can be done (25).




Work from home has blurred boundaries of work


What are the Benefits?

It is important that parents, especially new ones, keep track of this loophole(26). Not having a balance is stressful, and a stressful environment or a parent impacts the child— in direct but mostly indirect ways (27).

  • Improved physical health. Give your eyes a break from the screen, and engage with the world without technology (28).

  • Improved mental health. Creating a boundary between your work hours and life hours can help reduce/manage your stress and anxiety. Your work is only a ‘part’ of your life— not your life itself (29).

  • More quality time for your children. More than toys or fancy gadgets, your little one needs its parents around the most. Even if it's a few moments, getting involved in your child’s life can boost its growth a lot (30).

  • Stronger relationships. By focusing on the life part and not making it all about chores, parents can focus on building stronger connections and bond with their family members (31).



Don’t let work take over your entire life


Conclusion

Needless to say— children benefit the most from your attention when work-life balance is achieved. Routine management is easier, and they can talk about their day with you, how they feel, show you what they’ve achieved and sneak in a few extra cuddles to make them feel connected, safe and secure (32).




Audio-Visual Credits

  1. Image by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

  2. Image by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

  3. Image by Zan on Unsplash

  4. Image by Gabriella Henderson on Unsplash


References

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  2. Chapter 5: Balancing work and family [Internet]. Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends Project. Pew Research Center; 2019 [cited 2023Mar3]. Available from: https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2013/12/11/chapter-5-balancing-work-and-family/

  3. Chen Q, Chen M, Lo CKM, Chan KL, Ip P. Stress in balancing work and family among working parents in Hong Kong [Internet]. International journal of environmental research and public health. U.S. National Library of Medicine; 2022 [cited 2023Mar3]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9105254/

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